A big, beefy burger in a bun has long been the western world’s fastest way of hitting the hunger spot.
There have been consequences; the American fast-food favourite has played its part in expanding waistlines worldwide.
Here we are, though, tucking into probably the healthiest burgers ever invented.
We’re at YO! Sushi outside House of Fraser in Meadowhall, a branch of the restaurant chain founded on the Japanese ‘kaiten’ sushi bar concept. The YO! way of eating is fun; domed plates of sushi and the like whizz round on a conveyor belt like alien crafts in some sci-fi city. You take what you fancy as it comes your way. Dishes are freshly prepared by chefs working in the centre of the conveyor belt.
Soups, rice and noodle-based dishes, salads, tempura... Take your pick. Best-sellers are the Chicken Katsu Curry, Salmon Teriyaki and the Yakisoba noodles and now the chain has now reinvented the burger. Done Japanese-style, it’s beef-free (choose either chicken, salmon, tofu, tilapia fish or prawn) and bread-free... The bun is made with rice.
The husband ordered the prawn version, I the salmon - and inline with the East-West fusion theme, we pressed the service buzzer next to the free water dispenser on the counter in front of us and ordered wraps and a little salad to start. Mine was soft, mild and moreish salmon and avocado (£3.60), his was slices of spiced rare tuna steak (£4.10). Both came not in a soft tortilla but a thin green sheet of seaweed which we assumed we were supposed to eat. The £3.10 salad of grilled aubergine with garlic, sesame and ginger dressing was a sticky, slightly sweet delight which tasted like a Spanish tapas dish.
Our burgers arrived on Japanese bento trays (an homage to McDonald’s?) with crispy crackers like the ones you get at the Chinese takeaway, only these are nori seaweed-infused and tastier, plus a palate-cleansing sweet-sour coleslaw made of pickled carrot daikon radish and YO!’s take on ketchup, misochup sauce (it’s the colour of French mustard with a tangy taste) for £8.
He loved his prawn burger, a delectably moist and spicy patty made of mashed prawns atop white cabbage spiced with a dollop of curry mayonnaise, spring onion and diced red pickled ginger. He’d go back especially for it, he said.
I was less keen on my salmon version. It tasted nowhere near as interesting as his and fell to bits as I ate it. Wedged between the “bun” (essentially two rice cakes with a soft, chewy middle) were two pieces of marinated salmon, lettuce, shredded seaweed and long slivers of pickled vegetables. It didn’t stand a chance of holding itself together.
The meal was fun, though, thanks to the conveyor belt, the food presentation and our super-chatty waitress.
Including a bottle of Mangajo lemon and green tea (£2.55) and a large £4.95 Kirin Ichiban Japanese beer brewed in Bedford, the bill came to £34.30.
My star ratings out of five:
WHERE AND WHEN:
Park Lane, Meadowhall
Contact: 0114 218 9722
Details: open Mon-Fri 11.30am-9pm, Sat 11.30am-8pm, Sun 11.30am-5pm.
Orders stop 30 minutes before store closures.